As Spring Training Nears Something Is Missing – Baseball Needs A Hard Knocks Series


The Angels full squad will report to Spring Training this Friday to begin preparation for what should be an exciting 2011 season. 29 other teams will also gather this week in Arizona and Florida to begin tuning up for Opening Day. Baseball fans who have braved the long hard winter without the sounds of strike three! , the crisp sound of wood connecting for a home run, and their local play by play announcer’s signature home run call, can all rejoice in the fact that Baseball is back!

But something is missing.

 We’ve detailed before how MLB marketing is out of touch and does little to advance the game back into a true national past time. Major League Baseball’s lack of creating interest for the start of  baseball season is just another glaring example of them missing the boat on generating buzz , casting a wider marketing net and developing story lines about the finer points of the game.  Every spring, MLB Network does a 30 clubs in 30 days series   that gives a good overview of each teams current state and their expectations heading into the new season. These shows are well done and I recommend checking them out for each club ( the Angels Air on March 1oth). But what baseball needs is something provocative and more in depth. A show that focuses on Spring Training and the process teams go through to prepare for the season. Baseball needs a show  like the NFL has with HBO’s Hard Knocks. If you’re not familiar with  the series,  Hard Knocks goes behind the scenes with one NFL team each season, and gives viewers an inside look at NFL training camp. The show does a great job of highlighting the team,  their relevant stories and the personalities that go with it. This season the series followed the New York Jets and their obnoxious yet loveable head coach Rex Ryan and it was must see TV.  The great thing about the show is its wide appeal and the ability to relate and remain interesting to the hard core fooball fan and even to the casual football novice.

Baseball desperately needs a similar show. Spring Training position battles, top prospects  and aging vets struggling to make the team or bounce back from a down year , this is all compelling drama and an insiders view into Baseball’s pre season would go along way to revive the sport.  Just for fun, lets take a look at some potential compelling story lines Baseball’s Hard Knocks could cover this year.

  • Albert Pujols his contract negotiation and the St. Louis Cardinals
  • Vernon Wells, Kendry Morales’ rehab and the LA Angels
  • The Bernie Madoff saga and the NY Mets
  • The Yankees and their first Spring Training with out George Steinbrenner
  • The Dodgers and the McCourt divorce impact
  • The Phillies and their dream rotation
  • The Giants and the aftermath of their World Series championship
  • Ozzie Guillen being Ozzie Guillen and the Chicago White Sox

All of these story lines are rich and compelling and would go a long way toward increasing major leagues baseball’s reach at a time when the sport could really use it.  Besides, Rex Ryan has nothing on Ozzie.